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The state of mental health resources for youth

Last Modified: 5/01/2019

This post was written by Connie Kerrigan, Director of Community Outreach, Parkview Behavioral Health, and Tammy Toscos, Ph.D., Informatics Research Manager, Parkview Research Center.

Important considerations for getting ahead of the increasing suicide rates and the opioid epidemic are early screening, treatment and prevention. Parkview has engaged community partners for several research and program implementation efforts targeting youth mental well-being. Parkview Behavioral Health (PBH), Parkview Research Center (PRC) and The Lutheran Foundation (TLF) began a collaboration in 2014 with an award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to determine how technology might be used to support youth mental health.

The statistics

In our survey of more than 3,000 young people in northeastern Indiana, ages 14 – 24, over half of the respondents routinely experience a high stress level of greater than or equal to 7 (scale 0-10). More than 30 percent reported depressive symptoms and 15 percent had contemplated suicide in the past year. Furthermore, over one third reported feeling so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that they stopped doing some usual activities. We found youth were willing to reach out for help using technology, but over half would rather talk to someone face-to-face.

Turning things around

When it comes to mental health, early intervention can save a life, and the findings from our first study propelled the launch of several initiatives with youth in our area. TLF has a collection of programming being offered in local high schools and middle schools aimed at increasing personal resilience. PBH and PRC have started two clinically oriented projects targeting screening for prevention, one aimed at identifying the impact of cyberbullying among youth admitted to PBH and another looking at the impact of integrating a mental health care provider into primary care.  

To meet the urgent needs of those requiring mental health and addiction services, call the Parkview Behavioral Health HelpLine at 260-373-7500 or 800-284-8439. On-site services are available through Parkview’s partner, Park Center.

To help reduce the incidence of suicide, PBH offers free QPR suicide prevention training. Question, Persuade and Refer is an evidence-based technique used to recognize the signs of someone at risk of suicide, offer hope and get the person the care they need. QPR training is recommended for any one 16 years of age or older. Knowing how to help someone in an emergency has been shown to reduce suicide and get people the help they need. Parkview has partnered with the community to train more than 4,000 people and more than 40 instructors across northeast Indiana to meet the needs of the community. If you are interested in learning more about how you can help prevent suicide, please visit our website.

Coming together for the cause

While all of these initiatives help, it will take the entire community doing all they can to ensure our young people learn skills to cope with stress, build resilience, and get the mental health care they need when they need it. Data collected by Mental Health America, reveals that 64 percent of youth with major depression in the United states are not getting mental health care. In Indiana, 71 percent are not getting care. So this means only 3 out of every 10 young Hoosiers are getting the care they need for a major depressive episode.

These statistics can be viewed as a call to action. Everyone can take a stance against the despair of our youth. By taking a proactive approach to parenting, teaching, doctoring, coaching and providing opportunities to help our children, teens and young adults build the strength and resilience they need to cope with anything from daily life stressors to serious mental illness. Please join our fight today by taking the steps you can to help.


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